|AIR DATE 2011.08.23|
|Synopsis: Carter goes to the bar to scope for targets, unaware that he has both a tag-along, and a different sight to see.|
|HEY MR. DJ ♬|
Tonight, the Spearmint Rhino bleeds its music onto its downtown corner, heckling passersby that a good time can be found within walls pounded by the deep bass flooded into its pseudo-techno soundtrack. Past the bouncer, the floor vibrates with it, and, as the crisp lights of the outer city drop out to club dim, the top radio hits take on even stronger character, enveloping patrons in the dull fluorescent and hard spotlight ruled world.
At its center stage — today, strung up with more tiny yellow lights than Christmas — a couple of eager, but somewhat second-hand, girls embrace their places one either side of the main pole; empty; the main event hasn't started yet. The crinkle of beaded red curtains on either side bring or take more female bodies from the room intermittently, as gentlemen request their company, and others finish with it. Most of the faces are pretty, worn ironically by too much make-up here and there, but a good grade from top to bottom. What makes the two on the pole rate in less than top is that the brunette on the right side is too pressing for attention; she often abandons her dance to grind herself into men — and women's — personal space. Her opposite on the left side, a blonde — fake on top, but not where it counts, is a bit heavy-handed with the instrument. Yet both of them manage to average in better than the typical nightclub, and the seating, if not full, is nearing capacity, with anticipation as time rolls around.
Carter doesn't normally hit the clubs, preferring empty, impossibly dim bars to do his dealings. But he wasn't dealing tonight. He was hunting. The bad thing about making his money the way he did was that there was usually only one pay-off per hit. He needed fresh meat if he was going to keep the girl supplied with drugs. He was sure he could find a dealer in the club. It was, after all, a happening spot. He muscles through the crowd, claiming a booth in the back and sliding his weight into it. Fishing a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket, he begins to scan the people for possible marks.
He doesn't have to be there long, a fresh butt in a seat, before a heavily undressed waitress glides into his periphery, dipping to ask, experienced in having her voice heard over the music, what he'd like from the bar— non-alcoholic; even now, the blonde on the left stage is beginning to play with the edges of her bikini top. Blazing yellow headlights do much to hide the otherwise blaring tanline she hasn't had the professionalism to smooth. Around him, the crowd is both promising and not for illegal purposes. Without alcohol, most eyes are alert— and on the girls, or the buddies beside them. Hands passing are only giving across money onto the stage. It's a young, stupid, crowd, mostly. College kids with nothing to do yet. Men in suits who haven't stepped home. A couple fresh-faced ladies goading each other. Though it's certainly true that everyone's brimming with ones and fives.
With a faint flutter, as the music's remixed thrum picks up, the curtain in the back spreads to expose a lean, leg with skin turned positively caramel in the harsh spotlight. Its bright attention may skip a tanline, but lets no curves escape now — and what shows is very promising.
A crook of the knee and the curtain peels apart, unfurling to let out from its dancers-only beyond a new dancer, of exotic ethnicity, where her rich skintone is a compliment to unforgivingly bright red lingerie ensemble she wears, instead of the other way around. Decked in white trim, and lacy garters, she struts her way in high-heels on the glistening stage without fault, and finding her way to the center pole with cheeky familiarity. Amongst a few already enthused whoops, Tess high-steps an arc around the back of the pole to survey those there, a hand coming up to find the hairline of her dark brown tresses, and a couple of dollars already making their way at her feet.
Carter lights a cigarette as the waitress leans over to take his order. She says something but he can't make it out over the music so he waves her off. He wasn't paying ten bucks for water. And with no booze and the average looking crowd of folk, he begins to suspect the place is going to be a bust. But he was patient. And the dark booth and eye candy of the club was far better than prowling the back alleys for victims. As the music picks up and the new dancer makes her way onto the stage, he takes a long pull from his cigarette and watches her.
Streets upon streets, city lights upon courses of traffic away from here, where the room is much darker than even the intimate lighting of the club and the music doesn't reach, a needle presses against skin. Presses, and breaks the fair, fragile barrier. A blonde head — Clara — lifts up and thumps against the wall where she'd slumped down. Streetlights and a hint of neon signage light up her face from the open window across the room while she waits… waits… the surge comes, her breath hitches, and her eyes flutter shut.
Streets, city lights, coursing traffic and…
The beat of the music swallows her up, beat after beat muffled to her hearing but definable as the feverish thrumming pulse that fuels the club. Lights and colours flood her eyes along with everything cast in shadow. The glint of a spotlight, a shudder of beaded curtains, a pole, the darkness of a booth, a flash of skin— the blur of smoke swirling in front of her eyes breaking those California laws again— she's here and not here, seeing and not seen. Focus adjusts in Clara's new sights, a new, vivid focus along another's line of sight—
A dollar smashed against the pole she has a hand on, Tess sidles her way into a crouch to extend a welcoming hand to a lucky fellow in the front row. Entranced, he fumbles too hard for his pocket, spilling out a few things alongside the cash he means to pay. Accepting it without a wince in the smooth appeal of her gentle game face, the stripper is briefly ass-side to Carter before she winds her way up, taking the pole, money, and, again, her hair in hand. A single slender finger pushes that seductively falling hair from her pretty not-American face, clearing her vision in a fit of fate; her eyes, coming out from behind brown, alight even as far back as Carter, staring. A trace of a smile— intent? Invitation? Or, passingly, just the expression of her calling.
Less enticing, the scantily clad — but now dim, in comparison — waitress hasn't been entirely shoo'd. Dropping her intent to bring him something flavorful, she's instead caught in the wake of his just-lit cigarette and bends to make herself more audible. "Sir, no smoking."
Annoyed the waitress is still hovering about and detouring his attention from better sights, Carter turns on the women with dark eyes. He holds her gaze just long enough to convey his irritation with her, then takes a final drag from his cigarette before snubbing it out on the edge of the table with a vicious grin. He waves her off again and turns his attention back to the exotic girl on stage.
Through the dissipating cigarette smoke screen, it's not only Carter's dark eyes that watch the dancer on-stage, but also Clara's green ones — from so far away, yet right here with them in this very moment.
The patrons, waitresses and dancers moving about the club almost obscure the mirrors across the way from Carter's dark booth, angled to reflect the enticing sights back upon the audience. The reflection is a moving, living cluster of bodies coming and going; but every now and then, when the crowd drifts apart, the mirrors catch the dark booth Carter chose. In moments of skewed reality, it's not Carter sitting there in the reflection— should it be glanced at. It's a blonde woman, sitting just as he sits, wearing just what he wears, right down to his expression, seeming to watch the seductive motions of the woman on the center pole with just the same intent as he does. There, gone— there, gone, there.
Clutching an order pad between her bobbing breasts, the waitress scampers, her heavily lined eyebrows dipping with both unease, and a fluster of irritation. After a second, she expertly snaps a smile back into place and sidles her way to more accommodating company. Several others are doing the same; what girls don't dance do the rounds, bumping their hips into people's seats and, in varying stages of delicacy, making their prices known for 'more specialized attention'.
But the crowd around the main stage can't be lessened by these private offers. Tess is surrounded on all sides, aglow, and natural even in a head-pounding music, too bright and too dim lights, environment meant to fool more discerning eyes. Just a light wash of reaction plays under the lights on her face from the confrontation, where her gaze is still affixed further back; no fear, no alarm. Not even disapproval. Just a touch of seeing, before she drops her gaze to feed the hungry hands near her feet, offering her things on delightfully green-tinted paper. Playfully scattering some of the dollars already in her hand onto the stage floor, she frees her grip to grab the pole with both, careening downward with a graceful swoop, then all the way up. Her naked leg spreads to the side, sliding her back to the tall tool, and she dips just a little, hips dropping in perfect suggestion while one hand winds up above her hand to wrap high on the pole and her other slithers across the open terrain of her bare thigh before the squeezing lace of tall tights. Pleasure, an immense comfort in her position, warms her look: eyes demurely down, but lips barely parted in what could, with easy imagination, be a moan beneath the music.
Could be, if any of the needy faces below her had their way. Would be, the show seems to suggest. But nothing seems to tempt Tess from the post she drapes so effortlessly.
Carter watches, the irritated crease in his brow slowly smoothing as the dancer continues her seductive moves on the pole. He watches as the stage at her feet is literally carpeted with money. He wonders briefly about getting the girl into this, but decides quickly she wouldn't have the focus. Not too mention the woman on stage was better than the opening act. She worked the crowd with ease and comfort. Admirable. She was captivating, seemingly able to override his desire for a cigarette and a drink. So far. He reaches into his jacket and draws out a wad of bills, unconcerned of who might see it. When the dancer's gaze makes its rounds to him again, he holds up the cash in invitation.
And to Clara's eyes — to the mirror's eyes — the money held out and beckoned with between delicate, feminine fingers more fragile than Carter's. Here, held with his strength of grasp. In the distant reflection, Clara, in the man's seat, seems to invite Tess to come, too.
Finishing a dip with her legs straddling the pole, slim but shaped arms keeping her body in a controlled free-fall of seduction— a series of ups and downs, always the hair making coy shadows of eyes that barely need their make-up. And as she passes afront the pole again, hand straying on its length behind her, Carter's place in line comes up with her strong gaze. Lips still lightly apart, as if to speak or… other things that happen in a club, she's caught not by the green of his money, but the glimmer of reflection above his seat. A slenderer hand. Peak of blonde hair. Just a wisp, and gone just as quick; the sight seemingly banished by the harder glare of the club's reality. Tess' light slow seems nearly planned, its agile break from the very upfront grinding just before causing a light frenzy around her high-heels, so that, when she just as suddenly grips the pole in both hands, and drives her body down — her remarkably shapely ass out — it's like a reward. And she's thus rewarded.
And she, coming along the front with arms raised and waist swaying, gives a little nod of indication to Carter to let him know he's not been ignored. Only: now he's on stripper time. Positioned back against the pole once more, her hands spread not so shyly at her leg and the tight lingerie between her legs, Tess gives an answer. Those parted lips move, silent, and, not entreating as many of the whispers nearby, but bold: hey, her voiceless greeting. A shoulder cocks jauntily. Two fingers, from off the smooth skin of her body, beckon him in with just as much authority. Testing. This is her home.
Satisfied he has been noticed, Carter slips the cash back into his pocket. The invitation isn't lost on him, but he didn't play in the light. The edge of the stage was far too crowded for someone use to watching from the shadows. He is patient, watching the dance continue. There was no easy targets here, but maybe he could make a contact. The woman on stage was a pro and they were always good to know. information was king and he could use a reliable source. The girl was far too strung-out to be of any help in that department. Maybe this dancer was just the ticket. Powerful and sure. But he wouldn't go running to her like the front row, eager to see the goods and toss some bills on stage and go home with nothing but memories. He wanted more than skin for his money.
He would seem to have lost his leash of interest on the stripper, as she regards a few other faces — other offers. Then Tess dips. This time, different than the others. It's a move that propels her right to the floor, knees slipping forward and touching. With a shimmy, she pads obligingly towards that edge of the stage, parting panting faces in her wake. One detour to pick up a fiver presented her; she cocks her knees forward, spreads her hand over the donor's hair and gives him a preview of the dark-skinned ladies in that lacy bra before pursuing her final destination. Even crawling she looks in control.
Fingers, grappling with the air and self-confidence, careen towards the stripper's offered goods. Just as tips part neutral space into Tess', she glides backwards, hauling onto her ankles and then, with a gratuitous bounce, to her feet. A bob of her shoulder, and flick of her hair. Hand wrapping into the thick brown to part it on Carter's side; a last farewell tribute. His loss. A twist of high-heeled ankles and she's strutting back the way she came, reaching down generously towards last minute donations. More litter the stage; they'll be gathered later, to be added to the not-inconsequential stack sitting inside her bra, draped along the curve of her upper breast. Last flash of that; last flash of Tess; she's gone behind the curtain.